A WOMAN has spoken of the chilling moment a man wearing a black balaclava turned and glared at her as Jon-Jo Highton lay fatally wounded in a Preston street.
Minutes earlier the woman – who cannot be identified – had got into a car with her partner and set off to collect a friend from another part of Preston.
All of a sudden we were just there. It all happened so fast and if you had time to think about it you would have been really, really scared for your safety
But as they approached the junction of St Anne’s Road and Charnock Street she heard a woman screaming: “They are going to kill him. They are going to kill Jon-Jo.”
The woman’s partner accelerated and sped to St Stephen’s Road – the scene of the murder.
As the car screeched to a halt behind the two vehicles alleged to have carried Jon-Jo’s attackers to the Deepdale area, the woman said: “I saw them and there was this guy just jumping back in the car and he glared at us and it just hit me, the seriousness of what was going on.”
In a recorded police interview the woman said she had seen Jon-Jo walking with her partner’s sister as they got in the car.
She said: “All of a sudden we were just there. It all happened so fast and if you had time to think about it you would have been really, really scared for your safety.
“I was scared. Me and my partner were talking and we said if it was a gun crime they would have probably shot us as well.”
The couple arrived at the scene as the men were getting back into the two cars in the wake of the attack on the dad-of-one.
The woman said: “I have a memory of seeing a few balaclavas but this one man struck me because he wasn’t rushing. He casually strolled across the back of the car and looked at me. It was shocking.”
As the cars drove away with the men alleged to have attacked Jon-Jo on board the woman tried to memorise the registration plate and ran to a nearby house to find a pen.
She then returned to the scene to find Jon-Jo fighting for his life.
The 18-year-old suffered multiple stab and slash injuries including a large wound to his face and neck thought to have been inflicted with a sword.
One woman made efforts to resuscitate him but when paramedics arrived it became clear he could not have recovered from his injuries.
Owen Whitesmith, 19, of Glebe Close Fulwood; Arron Graham, 23, Ripon Street, Preston; Stephen Walton, 24, of no fixed address; Craig Walton, 26, of Watling Street Road, Fulwood; Joshua Bore, 19, of Morris Road, Ribbleton; Zaahid Patel, 20, of Park Avenue, Preston; Mohammed Sabbah Dal, 20, of Alice Square, Preston; and Minhaj Musa, 21, of Deepdale Road, Preston all deny murder.
Liam Tunstall, 26, of Mark Close, Penwortham; John Wilding, 36, of Everton Street, Darwen and Stuart Eastham, 32, Gisburn Road, Ribbleton deny assisting an offender.